…Most astrobiologists seem comfortable with the premise that life might be widespread. But their optimism doesn’t always extend to complex, intelligent life.

It’s possible that we inhabit a universe whose occupants are mostly pond scum. After decades of seeing semi-humanoid aliens strut across the silver screen, it would be more than a little disappointing to think that the actual cosmic bestiary largely consists of plants and animals that are microscopic, or at best, no smarter than cane toads.

That situation would make humans very special, a circumstance that seems at odds with the enormous amount of real estate available for life, as well as the billions of years since the Big Bang during which intelligence could arise.

So, could there be a plausible explanation for why the universe seems so short on keen-witted company?

RTFA for reflection upon our species, the known universe and such.

  1. RR says:

    Who says the known universe is so short on life? Only someone who doesn’t grasp the size of the known universe and the time it would take any kind of signal or actual travel to cross even a small part of it.

  2. hmeyers says:

    Life could be far rarer than most people think.

    The Earth has some very special things going on that are suspected of being very rare.

    Starting with the Earth having a powerful magnetic field and an abormally giant moon that not only stirs the oceans but mostly locks the surface from moving north/south.

    If the moon were not there, over the course of a few thousand years, Antartica would be at the equator and the tropics near the poles. The moon’s tug almost completely stops north/south orientation changes.

    Then there is the question of whether or not the moon’s formation (suspected of being an early Earth collision with another body) blasted away the atmosphere of the early Earth.

    Venus and Saturn’s large moon Titan have incredibly dense atmospheres. Titan’s atmosphere is heavier than the Earth’s atmosphere despite Titan being a mere 1/50th of the mass of the Earth. And Venus has crushing atmospheric pressure.

    If the Earth had crushing atmospheric pressure, whatever life here would be far different — if such extraordinary pressure didn’t prevent life to begin with.

    The properties of water depend on pressure (i.e. the boiling point, freezing point, etc.) as do the properties of a great many other molecules — and frankly if we had incredibly thick atmosphere, sunlight hitting the surface would be heavily reduced making it less likely something sophisticated like plants emerged that depend on sunlight.

  3. The Big Ohm says:

    … One more example of how a puny HUMAN can’t begin to even FATHOM how LARGE the universe is. Just for starter’s, it takes over 8 MINUTES for LIGHT from the sun to reach EARTH! and HOURS for light to get all the way to PLUTO! And that’s just the known SOLAR SYSTEM which is only one of BILLIONS of solar systems within ONE GALAXY! In a universe of TRILLIONS of GALAXIES!!!

    Point is, the universe is BIG — REALLY BIG! Meaning it takes TIME – a really LONG time to get ANYWHERE within the universe. And to think that there isn’t INTELLIGENT LIFE out there is moronically STUPID! It’s out there!!! But because no HUMAN has found it, somehow that means it isn’t there?! That’s conceited. You’re not just a fool but a DAMNED FOOL if you think otherwise. You’re worse than a damned fool if you somehow think humans are in any way “special” too – get over yourselves!

  4. Mr Anderson says:

    We’re just the smartest on our half of the Milky Way


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